This activity seems quite simple (and it is) but your child can gain fine motor skills, learn math, and even learn about natural science! Plus, you will need a nice outdoor walk by a park or forest near you to collect these beautiful autumn leaves to begin with, which gives you and your child a chance to connect with nature! Take a camera for your child  to photograph all the leaves, the trees where you found them, the beautiful scenery around you (an excellent visual arts activity), and take the time to play and jump on the biggest pile of leaves you can find (gross motor play) and feel how the weight of your child’s body makes them crackle (sensory learning). We love using nature to learn at our CEFA Early Learning schools.

You can do this anytime of the year, but fall is my favourite as the leaves are so colourful. Give it a try at home!

Best Ages for This Activity

One to five

How to Make It

You Will Need:

  • Assorted leaves that you collected outside
  • A small branch to thread the leaves through (see activity photo)

Let’s get Started

  • Go on a walk outside and take the time to play with leaves before you collect them (optional). During play, ask your child about the way the leaves feel on their hands, or how they sound when they walk over them. Chat about the scents of fall, the colours they see, the shapes of the leaves, the size of the trees and of the leaves, the different sorts of leaves and trees they find, etc. Don’t “quiz” your child, just talk about these things as if you were chatting to a friend about it. These types of conversations are the ideal way for your child to increase their vocabulary as well as their math language and math knowledge. Your child will also learn about nature, about why the leaves fall, about the trees and how many years it takes for them to be as tall as they are (if you are not sure, Google is your friend here). Explore, explore and explore. Enjoy nature with your child and they will develop a lifelong love for the outdoors, and respect for the natural world. Don’t rush this part of the activity – fully immerse yourself in it!

  • Take the time to take beautiful photos (on your phone is perfect) show your child how to look through a lens, how to capture what they find beautiful through a photograph. This will make a perfect visual arts activity!
  • See if you find any friends amongst the leaves and find out how they live. You will at least find a few interesting insects

  • In a basket or recyclable bag, collect your favourite leaves to take home, and one twig or tiny branch (that has fallen – don’t rip from a tree). This will be to weave the leaves through. The more firm it is, the easier it will be for your child to weave. The more flexible, the more challenging (or frustrating, depending on your child’s fine motor skills level).

  • When you get home, look at all the leaves you found! This is where you could introduce math activities such as:
    • Counting the leaves
    • Sorting by colour
    • Sorting by size
    • Sorting by type/shape
    • Sorting by level of dryness
    • Etc.

  • Invite your child to thread the leaves through the branch you collected. This can be done any which way your child chooses, focusing on the beauty of the final product. It can also be an opportunity to learn math by sequencing the leaves:
    • one red leaf, two yellow leaves, one brown leaf, one red leaf, two yellow leaves, one brown leaf, etc.
    • one large leaf, one medium leaf, two small leaves, one large leaf, one medium leaf, two small leaves, etc.
    • one maple leaf, one arbutus leaf, one maple leaf, one arbutus leaf, etc.
    • the possibilities are endless here! You can even have several little branches each with a different colour leaf!
  • Threading the leaves is an excellent fine motor activity, as your child has to be delicate enough not to break or rip the leaf, which requires skill.

Learning Opportunities

Children will learn so much with this activity, including fine motor skills, math, creativity, art, S.T.E.M., natural science, literacy, independent play and so much more!

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Make a beautiful leaf collage (visual arts)

  • Make a leaf garland and teach your child to tie knots (fine motor skills and practical life skills)

  • Learn about the trees and leaves in your neighborhood, and about why leaves change colour (natural science, nature appreciation) and classify them (math).

  • Make a beautiful leaf mobile (visual arts) for a baby brother or sister (empathy and contribution)

  • Paint with leaves (visual arts and sensory activity)

  • Learn to draw the different leaves (art, math, fine motor skills – a precursor to writing)

  • Colour match (math)

  • Make graphs of your findings (math)

  • Make your leaves come to life! (dramatic arts, creative play and art)

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